While touring around Maryland in our EV this weekend, we decided to drive up to Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont to check on the EV charging stations there. The National Park Service and the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities, have partnered in a project to deploy EV charging stations in a number of National Parks including the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park and Catoctin. One of the stated goals of the initiative is to “educate park visitors on the benefits of cutting petroleum use and vehicle emissions.”
On the Clean Cities website, it says that Catoctin Mountain Park will install electric vehicle charging stations for park and public use. Information found online suggests that a request for bids for construction of five EV charging stations at three locations at the park was solicited in July, 2015 with a project magnitude of $60,000 – $80,000.
The Catoctin Mountain Park Facebook page announced the charging stations on December 18, 2015 with a photo of the Park’s new C-max Energi car plugged in. The caption said, “Although the charging stations aren’t quite ready for visitor use, they will be soon.”
When we arrived at the Visitor Center parking lot Sunday afternoon, the sign on the two ClipperCreek stations was covered with a dark plastic bag. I went inside and asked the Rangers about the status of the stations and one looked at me and said that the charging stations have not been turned on and he doesn’t know when they will be, “if ever.”
If ever? I asked what he meant by that. He said everyone needs to get on the “same page” before it will be turned on. When I pressed for details, it seemed that the charging stations are caught in some sort of intractable bureaucratic limbo. Then I started asking what needs to happen and what I can do to help get the process moving forward so that the public, who evidently have already paid for the charging stations, can actually use them as intended.
The other Ranger asked me to wait while she went in the back to talk to someone. She returned with a paper with the name and contact info for the park superintendent. She said the delay has something to do with getting an intermediary for the payment mechanism. There is a Liberty access control kedpad on each of the stations and the stations do have power but no apparent way to pay or authorize use to the public.
I have contacted the park superintendent and will update this post when I know more.
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